Helping to remove a stranger’s body hair might be uncomfortable for most people, but it is no trouble for Amalina Abdullah (‘Nana’ for short) as she has been doing so for four years. From male to female, locals to foreigners, Nana has seen it all. (Don’t be cheeky!)
This week, Youth.SG visited her at Pink Parlour to learn more about being a waxing therapist. We even got to see how she does waxing!
Nana also shared with us how she overcomes her shyness and hot temper, which are opposite traits of a person working in the service line.
WAXING THERAPIST AMALINA ABDULLAH
WHO: Amalina Abdullah (Nana), 25
OCCUPATION: Waxing Therapist at Pink Parlour
STUDIED: ‘O’ Levels, Certificate in Top-to-Toe Massage
At Pink Parlour where she worked her way up from a therapist to a supervisor at one of their outlets, Nana does everyting from waxing and massage to mani-pedi (manicure and pedicure).
We learnt more about Nana and her experience as a waxing therapist:
Tell us about yourself.
I am a simple person who likes to go for karaoke. Contrary to what I do—(being in the) service line—I am very shy and hot-tempered but I work hard to prove myself.
I have quite a complicated history where I married young and then divorced, and then remarried. However, my current husband is not much better either, leaving me to cope by myself as he recently went into prison.
Currently, I have to bring up my five-year-old son, whom I had with my first husband, on my own. Therefore, my life is quite tough but luckily, my grandmother helps to look after my son while I am working.
How did you become a waxing therapist?
I first learnt waxing when I joined a beauty wellness centre that does spa and waxing. Before that, I actually learnt traditional Javanese massage at a massage parlour and did spa treatments like body scrub, body wrap and sauna. However, I left the beauty wellness centre after a while as things did not work out well.
After that, it took me quite long to find another job. From the newspapers, I shortlisted three beauty wellness centres (including Pink Parlour). I checked out the first two places but did not really like it. Then, at 2008, when I went to Pink Parlour, I was offered an acceptable salary and I found the environment welcoming, so I took up the job.
At Pink Parlour, my boss personally teaches me everything. At first, she taught me pedicure, which I never thought of learning as I did not really have the interest. She then went on to teach me Pink Parlour’s procedure of doing waxing. It was from her that I fully learnt how to do waxing and then went on to be a proper waxing therapist.
Can you tell us more about what a waxing therapist does?
Basically, we help people remove hair on their body through waxing. Usually, a waxing therapist will be able to do waxing for all parts of the body but there are also some who do not want waxing for the private areas.
Besides the (waxing) treatment, we also have to learn the various products we use so that we know which product is good for what purpose.
WAXING MIGHT SEEM SIMPLE BUT TO DO IT PROPERLY, YOU ACTUALLY NEED TO USE ALL THESE PRODUCTS
Another similar profession is an electrologist. However, unlike waxing, electrologists use machines to remove hair permanently through a process called electrolysis.
Other than waxing, what other treatments do you do?
I do everything: mani-pedi, facial, body massage, Intense Pulse Light (IPL)—permanent hair remover, and manage the (booking) system. I can do everything that has to do with beauty and wellness, except for acrylic gel nails—partially because I have asthma and cannot take the strong smell of the chemical.
Basically, I learnt a lot after I joined Pink Parlour. I started out only doing treatments in one or two areas, like waxing or doing pedicure. Then, I gradually learnt the ropes in all areas of beauty wellness from my boss.
Describe a typical day at work.
I will first change into the uniform and if there are no customers to service at that point, I will check the system to manage the online bookings. Also, I will check the place to make sure that everything is clean and tidy. Then, I will prepare all the necessary products and equipment so that everything is ready when customers come in.
Sometimes, when customers are waiting, my colleagues and I will serve them drinks and make sure that they are properly attended to. After that, we start doing the treatments when the customers come in for their appointments.
What happens when a customer comes in for waxing/treatment?
We will first ask them to shower to make sure that the area we are going to wax is clean. After that, before we start waxing, we will apply alcohol on the area we are going to wax. Then, we put some powder so that the wax will not stick to the skin, making it easier to peel. Lastly, we put the wax strip on and peel. When the treatment is done, we apply some soothing cream on the waxed areas to prevent itchiness and to close the pores.
Here is an example of Nana waxing her colleague’s arm to give you an idea of how she does it:
NANA APPLIES THE ALCOHOL FIRST
WHEN THE TREATMENT STARTS, SHE APPLIES THE WAX
THEN SHE PUTS THE WAX STRIP ON AND PEELS. SHE DOES IT SO QUICKLY THAT IT’S A BLUR ON PHOTOS (SKILLFUL!)
AND LASTLY, SHE APPLIES THE SOOTHING CREAM
NANA AND HER COLLEAGUE, LISE, WHO KINDLY ‘SACRIFICED’ HER ARMS SO THAT WE CAN SEE HOW THEY DO WAXING
Can you share with us some memorable experiences you had as a waxing therapist and why you found it memorable?
I have this regular customer who is very funny. Whenever she comes in for treatment, she likes to rant about her boyfriend and we end up being friends, as we share a lot of common things.
There was once she booked me for an appointment but learnt that I was actually not working when she came down. When one of my colleagues asked her if another therapist could do it for her, she said: “No, I only want Nana. I’ll come back next time”. That made me feel very appreciated and from then on, I treasure all my customers.
I also have had difficult or fussy customers. Some of them refuse to follow the standard procedure of washing the areas to be waxed before the treatment, but I have to still go ahead even if it might be unhygienic. Some are very picky and will check and point out spots that I missed but I will have to be patient and explain to them that the treatment is not completed yet.
Actually, I am very hot-tempered. When I meet difficult customers, I will try to be patient and apologise. But if the customer persists, I will get a colleague to attend to the customer as I do not want to lose my temper in front of them.
How long have you been in this industry and how has it changed over the years?
I have been in this (beauty and wellness) industry for about seven years. Like I mentioned, I started as a body therapist, then I went on to waxing, and then I learnt various other beauty wellness related treatments. If it is just waxing alone, I fully learnt and started doing it since I joined Pink Parlour four years ago.
Customers today are more open and friendly compared to previous years as they are more comfortable with getting treatments. Industry-wise, there are definitely more beauty wellness centres now compared to last time, so it can be considered more competitive.
What are some challenges you face as a waxing therapist?
Actually I find that there are not many challenges as a waxing therapist.
Perhaps something that was quite challenging was when I first did boyzilian waxing (waxing for male’s pubic area). It is not easy to learn. Additionally, because I am quite shy, I was scared that I do not have confidence to do waxing for males. But my boss guided me along and I gradually learnt how to behave and talk in front of male customers. With experience, I also learnt how to handle different situations with them.
A personal challenge is that my hours at work give me lesser time to spend with my son.
What motivates you in your work?
I enjoy working at Pink Parlour. All my colleagues are very friendly and we always ‘disturb’ each other and laugh a lot. It is a very fun environment and we are like family. Also, I have a very good boss who is more like a friend. She helps us a lot and treats us very well. This makes me want to work hard to repay her kindness.
Lastly, it would be job satisfaction—when customers are happy with my treatments and I end up being good friends with them.
What advice do you have for aspiring waxing therapists?
If you really have the interest in this line, you have to be patient and you have to work hard. Put your heart into your job. Be open to criticisms and listen to advice. Don’t give up easily and practice more if you cannot do it on your first try.
It is good if you can take up beauty wellness courses before you start. However, for places like Pink Parlour, you can join without any background, as long as you are committed to learning and working hard.
NANA SHOWING US THE SET-UP IN THE WAXING ROOM
Being a waxing therapist at Pink Parlour:
Educational requirements: Not mandatory, but some places will require at least a certificate in beauty wellness or equivalent.
Qualities of a good waxing therapist: Hard-working, good people skills, patience, knowledgeable in everything about waxing.
Working hours: 11.30am to 9pm (Mon to Sat), and 10.30am to 7pm (Sun). Generally the same for other places.
Salary range: $1,200 to $3,000 or $4,000 per month.
Career prospects/advancements: Supervisor, trainer, assistant manager, or you can start your own waxing parlour or beauty wellness centre.